Tag Archives: The Hill

Tariffs harm U.S. economy, experts say

It turns out that Donald Trump’s alleged expertise on international trade policy is, shall we say, a bit overstated.

Put another way, the president’s decision to impose tariffs on imported goods has harmed U.S. taxpayers and cost American jobs he vowed would return in droves.

Whose analysis is this? The Federal Reserve has released a study laying out what it says has been the impact of the tariffs across the land. It hasn’t been good, according to the Fed analysis.

This likely will bring some recrimination from Trump, who will say the numbers are wrong, they’re cooked up in some star chamber kitchen and that they’re intended to throw the upcoming election into his opponents’ corner.

As The Hill reports: “We find that tariff increases enacted in 2018 are associated with relative reductions in manufacturing employment and relative increases in producer prices,” the report by Fed economists Aaron Flaaen and Justin Pierce reads.

This is pretty in line with what many economists have said all along about tariffs, which is that they don’t harm the producers of the goods being imported into this country, but that they inflate the prices we pay here.

Trump is having none of it. He keeps insisting that tariffs are part of a successful strategy to “put America first.” He wants to punish countries that don’t play fair in the game of international trade. I certainly understand the president’s stated reason for wanting a fairer playing field.

Why, though, must he invoke tariffs that do two things immediately? They boost prices on imported goods, which is a de facto tax and they rattle the daylights out of financial markets, affecting the retirement portfolios of millions of Americans … such as, well — my wife and me!

This so-called trade policy damn sure isn’t making America great again.

‘No one cares’? Yes, we do care

Ed Rendell is a fierce Democratic Party partisan and an acknowledged supporter of former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign for the presidency of the United States.

He also is mistaken when he says “no one cares” about the gaffes that keep flying out of the former VP’s mouth on occasion.

Rendell, the former Democratic national chairman/Pennsylvania governor/Philadelphia mayor, has written that the only folks who give a hoot about Biden’s misstatements are the media and politicians. Hmm. I believe he needs to rethink that.

Rendell has written a column about it for The Hill. See it here.

I will agree with this assertion, however: Biden’s gaffes are not nearly in the same league as Donald John Trump’s continuing full frontal assault on the truth.

Biden does have this annoying tendency of mangling his facts, as he did when he sought to tell the story of a warrior who he said was awarded a Silver Star for valor. Military officials and witnesses to what Biden said occurred contend he got some of the details wrong, that he conflated events into something no one recognized. Biden stands by what he said.

Is this the same as Trump making preposterous declarations that he uses to glorify himself and inflate his role any event imaginable? Not even close, man!

Ed Rendell’s allegiance to VP Biden is understandable in this regard: They both have Pennsylvania roots, as Biden was born in Scranton, but moved to nearby Delaware as a young man and served the neighboring state in the U.S. Senate for 36 years before being elected as vice president in 2008.

However, Americans do care about Biden’s misstatements. The ex-veep needs to sharpen up his message and avoid these kinds of mistakes, which I believe he is capable of doing.

As for Trump, well … he’s a lost cause.

There’s fate . . . and then you have this!

I believe I have just read what could be the most dramatic demonstration karma imaginable.

The Hill newspaper reports the following:

South African wildlife authorities say they have recovered the remains of a man suspected of poaching rhinoceroses, one of Africa’s most endangered great beasts.

But get a load of this . . . they believe the guy was killed by an elephant and his corpse was devoured by a pride of lions.

Check out the story here.

To be brutally candid, I don’t know how I’m supposed to react to this kind of story. I have heard about how some African governments have issued shoot-on-sight orders to park personnel who witness individuals killing wildlife illegally. Given that I am a devoted wild animal lover, I have cheered those reports.

Should I feel badly for this guy’s family? I suppose so. Park officials have offered their condolences, which is appropriate.

This development, if it turns out to be true, would buttress the old commercial jingle that over the years has turned into something of a cliché: It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

How do you say it in, oh, Mandarin?

Donald J. Trump has been facing this scrutiny ever since he rode down that escalator at Trump Tower and declared his intention to “Put America First” while campaigning for the presidency of the United States.

Reuters News Agency reports that the Trump re-election campaign has getting its “Keep America Great” banners from a factory in the People’s Republic of China. The Trump team denies it. Reuters stands by the story.

I am going to go with Reuters’s version of events.

You see, Trump and his team have demonstrated repeatedly their ability to lie to our faces. They’ve done so on almost any and every issue under the sun. They get away with it in the eyes of the “base” that continues to support the president.

The Hill reports: Manager Yao Yuanyuan told Reuters that she was worried Trump’s own tariffs would hurt production numbers, but said she did not know if the banners’ buyers were officially affiliated with the Trump campaign or the GOP.

Yao said her factory has been making Trump banners since the president was a candidate. 

There have numerous reports ever since Trump entered the rough-and-tumble world of politics about Trump-brand clothing being made offshore. Trump hasn’t denied it categorically. So, there’s a history of his using foreign labor to manufacture items with his name on them.

Should it surprise a single person that he would do so with the re-election campaign banners? Hah! Not even …

White House sinks to new level of juvenile petulance

A reporter for CNN has found out she has friends.

Her colleagues are standing with her in the wake of a petulant White House decision to bar her from a press event in the Rose Garden.

What got Kaitlin Collins in trouble with the White House? She asked some tough questions. That’s it, man! She was doing her job.

Well, the White House banishment of her hasn’t gone over well. Get a load of this statement from Fox News, the favorite cable network of Donald John Trump Sr: “We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press” Fox President Jay Wallace says in statement.

A “free and unfettered press” needs “full access” to the people in power. Yep, they do. Jay Wallace’s defense of Collins is spot on.

Donald Trump is demonstrating time and again that he possesses the thinnest skin in a president since, oh, Richard M. Nixon. That goes back more than four decades. President Nixon was known to exact revenge against media members, particularly the Washington Post, which led the journalistic investigation into that “third-rate burglary” known as Watergate.

This president, No. 45, is setting a new standard for presidential petulance.

As The Hill reported: “Wannabe tyrant Donald Trump is banning reporters he doesn’t like from official press events,” McGovern tweeted. “Journalists like [CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins] ask questions not just for their news outlet, but on behalf of all Americans.”

“Shutting them out is a slap in the face to our democracy,” he added.

Except that the president shows us damn near daily that he is ignorant of the value that a free press brings to a free society.

Come clean on the Trump-Putin meeting

I am not the first person to say this out loud, but I’ll say it anyway.

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin need to tell the world what the hell they talked about in that closed-door meeting in Helsinki, Finland. Come clean, Messrs. President. You represent nearly 500 million people between you. The world wants to know.

Republican lawmakers are starting to put a bit of heat on the president. According to The Hill: Congressional Republicans are urging the White House to get ahead of the Kremlin by defining what was and wasn’t agreed to. What was said between the two leaders, they admit, remains a disconcerting mystery.

Not only that, Americans need some clarity on the questions that are gnawing at many of them: What, if anything, does Putin have on Trump? Why won’t the U.S. president seriously condemn the Russian president’s ordering of the attack on our electoral system in 2016? Where will the path to bilateral friendship take the two nations? Did the leaders make any verbal agreements between them? If yes, then what the hell are they?

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., also wonders whether a proposed second Trump-Putin summit is going to implement some mystery agreements.

Then there’s this, also from The Hill: Members of Congress worry that Russia will use the Helsinki summit to undermine U.S. relations with NATO allies, especially with former East bloc and Soviet states that Putin views as within his country’s traditional sphere of influence.

Lots of questions. Lots of mystery. We need some transparency and accountability. Now!

Nice try, Mr. President … but there was no one else

Let’s try to speak with some clarity on this Russian meddling matter and whether the president of the United States actually believes the U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment of the situation.

Donald Trump said Monday he had no reason to believe the Russians would have attacked our 2016 election system.

Then today he said he had no reason to believe the Russians would not have done it.

Oh, but then he said that maybe “others” did it, too, all while expressing full faith and confidence in the CIA, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies’ belief in their conclusions about Russian meddling.

As The Hill reported: “I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said, reading from a prepared statement in front of reporters at the White House.

But he added: “Could be other people also. A lot of people out there.”

Read my lips, Mr. President: Our spooks say the Russians did it! They did it by themselves. They had no help. There was no “400-pound guy lying on his bed.” The 29-page indictment handed down identifies 12 Russian military officers as the culprits … allegedly.

I have to ask, Mr. President: Do you support our intelligence network fully, or not?

And many of us are still waiting for a full-throated condemnation of Vladimir Putin and his Russian hierarchy for launching their attack on our political system, which the president took an oath to defend.

Senate panel takes command of the obvious

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has weighed in with what the rest of the country — except for perhaps one man — already knows.

The Russians meddled in our 2016 presidential election and worked to elect Donald J. Trump as president of the United States.

Senators have concurred with what every intelligence expert in this country — and some around the world — have concluded. The Russians attacked our electoral process.

According to The Hill: “The Committee has spent the last 16 months reviewing the sources, tradecraft and analytic work underpinning the Intelligence Community Assessment and sees no reason to dispute the conclusions,” said Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said in a statement.

Did you note that Burr is a Republican? That he’s the chairman of the panel? That he has done what his GOP colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee failed to do, which is issued a bipartisan conclusion?

Trump, meanwhile, continues to give the Russians a pass. He won’t condemn their actions as a virtual act of war on our electoral system. He won’t scorch Russian President Vladimir Putin the way he has, say, the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities. Justice Department and FBI leaders have been vilified by the president, who cannot bring himself to say publicly what intelligence experts have said for months, that the Russians meddled in our election.

The Hill reports: All in all, the Senate panel’s report was a unflinching contradiction of many of the core claims made by Trump allies in the House. 

Read The Hill story here.

Will the president take this latest confirmation any more seriously than he has the previous reports? Absolutely not!

Indeed, he’s getting ready to meet with Putin in a few days in Helsinki, Finland. Don’t expect the president to criticize the Russian strongman over his attack on our election.

Newspaper pushes back against POTUS

The Annapolis (Md.) Capital Gazette has laid it on the line.

In a letter made public this weekend, the newspaper said it won’t forget that Donald J. Trump has continually labeled the media “the enemy of the American people.”

“We won’t forget being called an enemy of the people,” the staff wrote. “No, we won’t forget that. Because exposing evil, shining light on wrongs and fighting injustice is what we do.”

A gunman armed with a shotgun walked into the Capital Gazette newsroom this past week and killed five employees. Four of them were journalists; the fifth was a sales assistant.

The suspect isn’t cooperating with the police who arrested him. Thus, we don’t yet know with absolute certainty what motivated him to open fire on the Capital Gazette. Yes, he lost a defamation lawsuit he had filed against the newspaper.

But the Capital Gazette has leveled a thinly veiled response to Trump’s continual verbal assault on the media.

Yes, the president issued appropriate remarks condemning the attack against the newspaper, saying that journalists “like all Americans” deserve the right to do their jobs without being “violently attacked.”

But according to The Hill: CNN’s John Berman called the president out on air for using the phrase “violently attacked,” saying that he “clearly has no problem at all verbally attacking journalists.”

It is long past time to tone down the anti-media rhetoric. Are you up to the challenge, Mr. President?

Conway bristles at legitimate question

CNN correspondent Dana Bash doesn’t need little ol’ me to defend her … but I’ll defend her anyway.

Bash interviewed White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway over the weekend and asked her what I believe is a totally legitimate question. Conway bristled bigly at the inquiry, suggesting that Bash wouldn’t have asked the question of a man. Bash said she would “a thousand percent.”

Bash wanted to know how Conway handles the tweets that have come from her husband, noted lawyer George Conway, that have been quite critical of Donald J. Trump’s policy pronouncements.

George Conway has since taken the message down from his Twitter account, but … as they say: You can’t unhonk the horn.

Kellyanne Conway took serious umbrage at Bash’s line of questioning.

What I heard, though, was Bash inquiring about whether a senior policy adviser to the president of the United States had any issues with her husband — who happens to be a highly regarded and respected lawyer in D.C. — questioning the policies delivered by the Leader of the Free World.

I didn’t detect any snarkiness in Bash’s question. I didn’t hear any disrespect in her voice. I heard a serious-minded question that deserved a serious-minded response.

Instead, we all heard Kellyanne Conway impugn the integrity of a serious broadcast journalist working for a serious media organization. As The Hill reported: “It’s fascinating to me that CNN would go there, but it’s very good for the whole world to have just witnessed … that it’s now fair game how people’s spouses and significant others may differ with them,” Conway told CNN’s Dana Bash.

To borrow a word from Conway’s boss: Sad.